Hydrogenated water, or hydrogen water, is regular water (H2O) that has had hydrogen gas added to it.
Is hydrogen-rich water good for you? The answer is yes – but there’s currently no standard on the maximum amount of hydrogen that be added to water, and research on the effects of drinking too much hydrogen is, so far, limited.
This guide will look in detail at hydrogen water, including what it is, its health benefits, and its potential risks, helping you to decide whether you should drink hydrogenated water.
Table of Contents
💦 What is Hydrogen Water?
Hydrogen water is pure, plain drinking water with added hydrogen molecules. Hydrogen is a non-toxic gas that has no color or odor. Hydrogen is most commonly used in fertilizer production and petroleum refining.
Water already contains molecular hydrogen (there are two hydrogen atoms for every one oxygen atom). However, some health companies add extra hydrogen to their water products because they believe this offers additional benefits.
The theory is that hydrogen bound to oxygen can’t be absorbed by the body as well as hydrogen on its own. The “free” hydrogen atoms that are added to hydrogenated water are more easily absorbed, making them more beneficial.
Hydrogenated water is made by infusing hydrogen gas into pure water, then canning the water. This product can be quite expensive, and a more affordable long-term option is to buy portable water bottles or countertop machines, or hydrogen tablets that hydrogenate water that you add yourself.
🩺 Are There Any Health Benefits of Hydrogen Water?
There are several health benefits of hydrogen water. However, these health benefits are based on limited research. I’ll be sharing applicable sources for the benefits below.
Providing Antioxidant Benefits
The biggest cause of oxidative stress is free radicals.
Free radicals cause cell damage, leading to inflammation and disease. Free radicals can also speed up the skin aging process. Molecular hydrogen, which can be found in hydrogen water, can fight free radicals and prevent the cells in the body from being damaged by oxidative stress.
One study by Medical Gas Research, lasting eight weeks, looked at the effects of drinking hydrogenated water in people receiving radiation therapy for liver cancer. In the study, half the participants were drinking hydrogen-rich water every day.
The study found that the participants who had drunk the water containing extra hydrogen gas had more antioxidant activity and reduced oxidative stress compared to the people who hadn’t consumed the extra hydrogen in their water.
The anti-inflammatory properties of hydrogen may also reduce the risk of life-threatening diseases like heart disease.
This evidence is based on only one study, and more research is needed for us to understand exactly how hydrogen water can affect oxidative stress.
Reducing Radiation Therapy Side Effects
The same study of 49 patients receiving radiation therapy found that drinking hydrogen-rich water reduced the side effects of the cancer treatment and improved quality of life.
Radiation therapy can cause side effects including nausea, headaches, vomiting, hair loss, skin problems, fatigue, and soreness in the treated area.
In the study, the patients who consumed hydrogen water said that their quality of life was better than the patients who consumed regular water.
Again, this is based on a single study, so it’s hard to know the effects of drinking hydrogen water on quality of life in both healthy people and people with chronic illnesses.
Improving Athletic Performance
Hydrogen water is commonly promoted as a beverage for athletes, with companies claiming that the added hydrogen gas offers a number of energizing benefits.
It’s thought that hydrogen-rich water reduces inflammation by preventing lactate from accumulating in the blood as quickly. Lactate causes muscle fatigue.
One study confirmed that drinking hydrogen water can slow down blood lactate accumulation and decrease muscle fatigue. The placebo-controlled study compared two groups of athletes: one group consumed 51 ounces of hydrogen water per day, while the other group drank placebo water.
The findings in this study are reinforced by another small study, which looked at the effects of the consumption of hydrogen water on male cyclists. The cyclists who drank 68 ounces of hydrogen water every day were able to maintain peak power output during sprinting for up to 30 minutes, and performed better than the placebo group who drank regular water.
Improving athletic performance is the most scientifically-backed benefit of hydrogen water. However, the two studies still provide limited evidence, and more research is needed to confirm how hydrogen water may boost athletic performance.
Helping Address Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome describes a group of conditions – usually obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure – that occur at once.
People with metabolic syndrome have symptoms including high blood sugar, excess belly fat, high cholesterol, and increased triglyceride levels.
One clinical trial looked at how hydrogen water could improve the health of participants with potential metabolic syndrome. The subjects, who all had signs of this syndrome, drank between 30 and 34 ounces of hydrogen water on a daily basis.
Once the clinical trial came to an end, patients saw significantly increased “good” HDL cholesterol and reduced “bad” LDL and total cholesterol. Hydrogen water also reduced the participants’ inflammatory markers and increased antioxidant activity.
❓ What Are the Risks of Hydrogen Rich Water?
Just as we don’t know much about the benefits of hydrogen water, we also don’t know the risks of this water.
The biggest concern with hydrogen-rich water is that there are currently no global regulations for adding extra extra gas to water, and we don’t know the short- and long-term effects of drinking too much hydrogen in water.
Aside from that, there aren’t any known risks of hydrogen water.
🤔 Should I Drink Hydrogen Water?
What we know about hydrogen water so far is promising. Consumption of hydrogen water daily could help reduce inflammation and improve athletic performance. The studies examining hydrogen-rich water on antioxidant activity are particularly interesting. Hydrogen water may even prevent disease.
However, there is so little evidence pertaining to these benefits that spending your money on hydrogen water may be a wasted investment. Hydrogen water is much more expensive than plain water, and it’s unclear whether the health benefits of hydrogen water don’t simply relate to staying hydrated in general.
You may choose to drink hydrogen water to give you a boost before working out, but based on the little evidence we know so far, it’s probably not worth drinking hydrogen water exclusively, especially as we don’t know the potential effects of drinking a significant amount of this water per day.
In terms of nutritional value, you don’t get anything extra from hydrogenated water. Like pure H20, water with extra hydrogen contains 0 calories, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein. However, some manufacturers add minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C and calcium carbonate, to their hydrogenated products.
There’s no difference in taste between normal and hydrogenated water, so there’s no reason to believe that you’ll be more tempted to stay hydrated if you exclusively drink a hydrogen product.
Research on how hydrogen acts as an anti-inflammatory, and its other benefits, is still lacking. More research is needed for us to decide how healthy hydrogen water is, and whether we should drink this water in place of plain water.
That being said, if you want to give it a go, check out this product:
📝 Alternatives to Hydrogenated Water
Hydrogenated water isn’t the only antioxidant-aiding beverage. Green tea and other herbal teas can provide similar qualities, and electrolyte sports drinks can boost athletic performance.
Drinking plain water can provide the positive effects associated with hydration, including improved brain performance, concentration, digestive function and energy levels, and decreased risk of kidney damage.
The disadvantage of tap water is that it often contains traces of contaminants that can pose a health risk if consumed in high quantities. It’s best to filter your water to remove these potentially harmful impurities. Clean, filtered water is healthy and hydrating, and your body couldn’t survive without it.
Filtered water is much more within most people’s price range than a hydrogenated alternative. You can filter your tap water from home, and many water filters cost less than $100 annually. Compare this to the price of hydrogenated water bottles, which can cost more than $50 per batch.